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Who was Giuseppe Tucci? Scholar, Explorer, Director of IsMEO, Mussolini's Spokesman

images (2)Tucci was one of the most prominent scholars of 20th century. A native of Italy, from the small town of Macerata, his name and his work are known throughout the world.

Tucci was an explorer in the Himalayan countries during the Fascist regime and the golden years of Christian Democracy, when foreigners were still barred entrance into those lands. He spoke and read in numerous languages, ancient and modern, and was a voracious scholar and insatiable collector of books, manuscripts, art works and archeological artifacts, whether Buddhist, Hindu, Bon, Iranian, Japanese, or from the vast regions of central, southern, and eastern Asia.

He served as professor of Chinese Language and Literature at the University of Naples “L’Orientale” and, subsequently, as professor of Indian Philosophy and Religion at the University of Rome, and resident scholar academician at the Royal Academy of Italy, and promoting the foundation of the Italian Institute for the Middle and Far East (Istituto Italiano per il Medio ed Estremo Oriente – IsMEO- later ISIAO), of which he served as president from 1947 to 1978.

In the late 1930’s, Tucci stood at the fore of Benito Mussolini’s political propaganda efforts in Asia, his persistent cultural interactions often flanking, and occasionally preceding, official diplomacy.

He founded the National Museum of Oriental Art and, in the 1950s, led Italy’s first archeological expeditions in Asia. When he traveled to Nepal, he was the first Italian to do so since eighteenth century missionaries, eventually leading five or six expeditions there; another eight, he would carry out in Tibet.

A brilliant, eclectic scientist. This was him.

© Copyright Enrica Garzilli 2014

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